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Any avid basketball fan knows the name Lebron James. From his free throws to three pointers to NBA championships, James is one of the biggest names in professional basketball history. But, there is more to James than basketball.
James is also an active philanthropist. He created The Lebron James Family Foundation, whose mission is to “positively affect the lives of children and young adults through education and co-curricular educational initiatives.” The foundation plans to open the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio as a public school for at-risk children, according to their website. James himself was an at-risk youth in Akron who his family expected to fall to a life of delinquency. This first-hand experience urged James to give back to his community, according to ESPN.
James established the I Promise program in 2011. The program, which consists of students identified as underperforming, offers mentors, after school help and guidance for parents.
In 2015, the focus of the program shifted to the possibility of free college education. The University of Akron partnered with the I Promise School, offering full scholarships to students who graduate, according to Forbes.
The structure of the I Promise School distinguishes it from ordinary public schools. The school day at I Promise begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. to ensure that there is less time for students to engage in illegal activities.
Another major difference between the I Promise School and traditional institutions is that its school year runs from July to May. And even during their seven-week summer, teachers encourage students to attend academic camps in the STEM fields. The main premise of the I Promise School is to keep the youth in Akron out of trouble.
James’s personal experience and desire to help children with backgrounds similar to his own led him to not only become a recognized name in basketball, but also philanthropy.
James said he wants to help others learn and grow from their past to rebound into their future.
“This skinny kid from Akron who missed 83 days of school in the 4th grade had big dreams,” James said.